Christmas can be busy and stressful at the best of times so I’ve come up with some ways in which we can all use modern technology to make our December easier than ever. From gift shopping to entertainment, there are so many festive things you can enjoy without lifting a finger…
Earlier this year I was reading an article in Mensa magazine about emerging technologies and how these could impact on our lives in the future. Although the article ‘A Brave New World’ focused on robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality and brain-computer interfaces that may be possible in very distant future, it got me thinking about the ways in which we can use technology now to enjoy an easier Christmas.
If you’ve ever ordered a product online from Amazon, you’ve probably benefitted from an automated, machine-led system. Although it’s a great idea to shop local and handmade, some people just can’t get out to do that this year, so buying your gifts via the internet can make the process of Christmas shopping easier and safer.
I love watching those ‘inside the factory’-type of documentaries and it always amazes me just how much of the process is automated. Online retailers use machine vision systems to identify products, track inventory, locate parcels, and networks of conveyor belts and robotic arms move deliveries through the warehouse. This is how your order is able to arrive within a day or two – the computers and machinery speeds up the process massively.
Even places like eBay are using computer vision to enable you to search for similar items by providing a photo of what you’re looking for. Having analysed the image, the app will find other products that look like the product. It’s amazing that technology can now ‘see’ items and use this information to find what you’re looking for. Which brings us nicely on to Artificial Intelligence…
If you have a Smart Assistant – whether that’s an Echo Dot, Google Nest or even just Siri on your smartphone – you’ve used a basic form of AI. You can talk to your Smart Speaker or Assistant and get them to make a food shopping list for your Christmas dinner or order presents for your family.
Once you’ve started using the assistant/speaker, it’ll get to know your routines and can make suggestions or reminders based on your previous activity. They can even prompt you to wrap up warm when it’s snowing! Plus, there’s a few festive Alexa Skills available that give you a countdown to the big day and provide a message from Father Christmas. Google Home skills allow you to track Santa and even give him a phone call!
You can also use your smart speaker to play your favourite festive tunes throughout December. You can enable the Alexa Christmas Songs Skill or ask Google Home to play Christmas music to enjoy festive tunes from past decades while you decorate the Christmas tree. Plus, you can tune into festive radio stations like Heart Extra Xmas and Magic Christmas.
When you watch films on streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, their machine learning software recognises your preferences and can make entertainment recommendations based on things you’ve watched in the past. Using these services at Christmas will make it easier every time you sit down to watch a festive film as there will already be a selection ready for you to enjoy on your homepage.
SMART FAIRY LIGHTS
One more thing that’ll make your December easier is home automation. No longer will you have to turn on your Christmas lights in the evening as you can use a Smart plug to set timers to turn your exterior illuminations on and off. A Smart thermostat will also keep your home warm and cosy without you having to lift a finger to adjust the temperature. And when you’re coming home from work, you can set up a system to turn the lights and heating on in time for your arrival.
Finally, the colour and brightness of Smart light bulbs can also create a cosy ambience in your home and I’ve been using Smart bulbs for a while now. So all you need to do now is tell Alexa to dim the lights, make yourself a hot chocolate and cosy up on the sofa to watch a festive film through Netflix.
Will you be using any of these AI technologies during December? Let me know what other Christmassy tasks you use your Smart Assistant for in the comments below, I’d love to hear your ideas for an easy and enjoyable Christmas.
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